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My Life With the Saints

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  3,514 Ratings  ·  376 Reviews
One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year

Winner of a Christopher Award

Winner of a Catholic Press Association Book Award

Meet some surprising friends of God in this warm and wonderful memoir

James Martin has led an entirely modern life: from a lukewarm Catholic childhood, to an  education at the Wharton School of Business, to the executive fast track at Genera
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Loyola Press
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Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of my reasonable goals for 2013 is to pay more attention to my neglected spiritual side. The urge has been there all along, but the last two months of 2012 increased the sense of urgency. "The world is too much with us late and soon," and all that. Reality needed to be checked.

So I scoured amazon for Thomas Merton-like writers. You know. Christians who aren't rolled in too much holy. Writers with a sense of humor and a sense of sin. Ordinary people like me who think too much for their own g
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every Person
This is a really great, life-changing kind of book. The author is a Jesuit priest and the book is basically a memoir of how various saints have played an important role in his own life. He also explains some of the theology about saints and why they are important and tells a little about the life of each saint that has played an important role in his life.

The main point of the book is that each saint has his or her own personality with individual strengths and weaknesses - and that this shows t
Jun 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to booklady by: Karina
My favorite books are those which introduce me to other books or people I want to read/“meet”/learn more about. James Martin S.J.'s My Life With the Saints is exactly that sort of book! Of course most of the saints he writes about are old friends so there weren't too many introductions per se. Still reading and hearing about how my favorite heavenly allies have helped others in their spiritual journeys was very comforting. I found myself nodding, smiling and thinking, “That sounds just like St. ...more
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am now officially a Father Martin fan. This is the second book of his that I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly, the stories and meditations on his favorite saints were packed with inspiration and practical wisdom. Father Martin's self-deprecating, witty writing style makes for a fun read that also happens to edify the soul.
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My own experience with Catholic saints was better than most raised in the Catholic tradition. I always viewed them as adventurous fairy tales, having been exposed to the grim version of the Grimm fairy tales. This book is written by a Catholic priest who came into the priesthood without really knowing the canon of Catholic popular media like "The Bells of St. Mary's" or "The Song of Bernadette". Without having been influenced by the stranger aspects that can come with Catholic folklore, James Ma ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
An absolutely fascinating book...and unlike any other book on saints I have ever read. Although it is nothing like a devotional, every page has a little nugget to help with your every day life as he relates the lessons learned from saints. He talks about how saints are important to us not because they all do great things for God, but because they are individuals whom God used to do seemingly small things in an extraordinary way.
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you went to Catholic grade school, odds are that your classroom or library had multiple "lives of saints" books for your eight-year-old self to peruse. Full of lavish pictures of romantically dressed men and women, the books told stories about people who traveled to exotic places, fought authority in the name of justice, and performed the occasional miracle or two. And if that wasn't enough to make your eight-year-old-self love them, you might just have gotten hooked by the fact that there ar ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Every time I read a book by Jim Martin I feel like maybe we should be friends.
GK Stritch
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Brilliant minded Jesuits, strong teachers with fascinating insights, JESUITS WHO KNOW MORE THAN ME have always captured my attention. Call me old fashioned, but I don't like Jesuits dumbed down.

The title, the cover, and the blurb caught my interest (Goodreads recommendation), but the premise of the book: a Wharton grad raised in a lukewarm Catholic family who knows little of Catholic culture and goes on to be a Jesuit--seems "spiritually lite" to use the author's words. If this is a way to reac
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely spiritual memoir this book is. I've read a few other books by Fr. James Martin (Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life and The Abbey: A Story of Discovery) and I tend to find his narrative non-fiction more compelling than his fiction. This book was no exception.

I loved how personable and appro
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The church I grew up in consistently referred to Rome as the whore of Babylon, so needless to say I didn't learn anything about saints. I knew Biblical personalities, sure, but was completely oblivious to the hundreds of men and women throughout the Christian era who served as outstanding examples, witnesses, or reproaches to the rest of us. I encountered a few in history books, like St. Augustine,  but they were more statuesque than human. The sole exception was Joan of Arc, who began as a figu ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Reading Jesuit James Martin’s My Life with the Saints, brought home many key concepts for me. Some were just reinforcements of what I already know and understand, but there were other concepts, that I have felt before but could never describe, put into words, fully extrapolate, etc. You get the idea, I am sure. “Who trusts in God lacks nothing” was a Swahili proverb Martin cites at the start of one of the later chapters, and can really be seen as wrapping up the book’s entire message in a nice n ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I read this book on the recommendation of my amazing niece, Jen Bergeron, and I was not disappointed. Fr. Martin is very 'human' and down-to earth, making this book enjoyable. I did learn a lot about saints I already knew and saints I had not even heard of before. This book confirmed for me the fact that God has a purpose for all of us and it is unique for each of us. I particularly enjoyed reading about Pope John the XXIII, so much so that I've checked out one of the books Fr. Martin mentioned ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, with a ton of personality and inspiring stories of people who really spent their life dedicated to the well-being of humanity.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so happy to have received this book as a gift. In it Father Martin opened my mind to a whole new way of looking at saints and how their stories may influence my story. He introduced me to saints that I did not know and reacquainted me with many others. Father Martin showed me that saints are human and unique individuals that permitted Jesus to become the center of their lives. We are all called to be saints; to be ourselves centered on Jesus. I feel that this is one book that I will return ...more
Mary Harley
Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I've never really been interested to read what I've traditionally seen as a "lives of the saints" book. I have, however, taken time over the years to learn about specific people I've considered role models - Mother Teresa and Saint Francis, Dorothy Day and Pope John Paul, among others. In this book, James Martin writes a short chapter on each of 16 "saints" - some canonized, some blessed, some just admirable people you'd want to emulate in some way. Martin keeps the book interesting by moving it ...more
Sydney Young
Jul 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My husband will say, "What a surprise! Another book you love!" I guess I wouldn't love to read if I only read books that were average. No, I like to try to be pretty selective about what I read, and have learned not to invest the time if it's not worth it for me, regardless of what others think. I do think, with the amazing number of books out there, it is important to read it all, but also to read the best of the best. So, why is this book another home run for me?

I have been Protestant all my
Dennis Lid
Dec 31, 2009 rated it liked it
The book is well written, a good summary of several saint's lives, and is obviously painstakingly researched. James Martin, S.J. has personalized the renderings of the saints lives with references to his own experiences. Yet, I find it difficult to retain a keen interest in reading the rest of the book, although I must admit that it gets more interesting as the book progresses. I have had to read it in fits and starts over a prolonged period of time and am determined to finish it. Right now I am ...more
Sabine Terky
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fr. James Martin S.J, writes a short chapter on each of 16 "saints" - some canonized, some blessed, some just admirable people one would want to imitate in some way. He has personalized the renderings of the saints’ lives with references to his own experiences - his spiritual and Jesuit formation, his own personal struggles with his faith and vocation, and his wanting to become a better person. Throughout the book, Fr Martin emphasized on how diverse all the saints were and he was always trying ...more
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this after reading Martin"s book, Jesus: a parable, which I rated high and loved reading. In fact that was how I was into refocused to James Martin's work. I bought this book thinking I would read it later, so I did gradually. His writing is still engaging and easy to comprehend. He adds enough of his own personal spiritual journey to give it depth and organization, the saints and men and women he talked about were his favorites and were covered well enough in depth, he does give ...more
Anthony Ventrello
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's been said that there are books that change your life, well this is mine. I've always had a good relationship with my saints, but I never went beyond my favorite saints, until I read this book. This book was like an answered prayer for me. I was introduced to many saints that I wasn't familiar with and it led me to discover new saints. Although I did not agree with some of Fr. Martin's choices such as Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton who will never become saints, I was pleased to learn more abo ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasantly affective narrative told through the chronological introduction of holy persons in Fr. James Martin’s rather unconventional Jesuit journey. Blessedly free of the banality that so often blemishes spiritual memoirs. Following his hero Thomas Merton, Fr. Jim’s central theme is the uniqueness of each saint and the multiplicity of desires that shape individuals' vocational path to God.

The saints (some of whom are not, in fact, canonized):
St. Joan of Arc
St. Therese of Lisieux
Thomas Merton
Veronica Greenwell
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good-lord, 2012
I really enjoyed the historical, spiritual, and author's personal experience with each of the saint.
The questions in the back of the book helped me and a friend have some great discussions.
It's a great book for someone who wants to know more about "the saints"
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-church
I enjoyed this. There were some saints I knew, some I knew a little, and some I didn't know at all. I intend to go through the bibliography for more.

So far, I've not thought of the saints as "big brothers and sisters" for myself, but I will see if I can hold onto that idea in the future.
Allison P
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a very inspiring and encouraging read! Highly recommend!!!!!!!
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! Touching overview of Fr. Martin's most loved saints.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Greatly entertaining memoir based around inspiring stories of saints.
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Informative and inspiring. The writing style is engaging - very personable.
James Martin writes a great spiritual memoir of how he grew in his spiritual life with the help of saints' example. At once, a biography of the saints and memoir of his personal spiritual journey, Martin writes with a light-heart. For him, the saints represents the diversity of personalities that God works through and serve as a mentor of sorts through his spiritual growth.

Below are the saints he writes about and what it did in his life:

1) St. Jude is a patron saint of hopeless causes. As a chil
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lot of "saints" have been proclaimed throughout the past 2000 years so the inevitable question is which ones are Martin going to talk about? His list leans toward the present, and the key to his selection is not just reading about them, but being in real life situations where he sees some connection between the tasks he is facing and those faced by a particular "saint." An obvious example would be Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuit order, relatively late in life, and Martin who made a h ...more
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James Martin, SJ is a Jesuit priest, writer, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, and consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication.

Fr. Martin grew up in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States, and attended Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982 and worked in corporate finance at General El

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“The problem was that whenever I considered "earning a living," I thought mostly about the "earning" and nothing about the "living.” 1 likes
“At the time, I prayed to God only intermittently, and then mainly to ask for things, such as: “Please let me get an A on my next test.” “Please let me do well in Little League this year.” “Please let my skin clear up for the school picture.” I used to envision God as the Great Problem Solver, the one who would fix everything if I just prayed hard enough, used the correct prayers, and prayed in precisely the right way. But when God couldn’t fix things (which seemed more frequent than I would have liked), I would turn to St. Jude. I figured that if it was beyond the capacity of God to do something, then surely it must be a lost cause, and it was time to call on St. Jude.” 1 likes
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